The following article profiling senior F Erin Anthony appeared in the Allentown Morning Call on Monday, Jan. 24, and was written by Tom Housenick.
Erin Anthony has spent her college basketball career traveling to such cities as Worcester, Mass.; Hamilton, N.Y.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Annapolis, Md., to learn how to deal with box-and-one and double-down defenses.
Her academic studies have had her venturing to Beijing, Shanghai, Vicksburg, Miss.; and Fort Bragg, N.C., to get a handle on IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), major waterways designs and hurricane and other disaster relief prevention strategies.
In about six weeks, Anthony's basketball playing days will be over.
Her life as a civil engineer, however, is just beginning.
The senior at West Point has been Army's best women's basketball player for the last two seasons. She has set several records on her way to having one of the program's most distinguished careers.
The Parkland High School graduate is hoping to have an even bigger impact when her Army career takes off this spring.
"There are a lot of opportunities, especially in the Corp of Engineers," Anthony said.
A little more than two years removed from uncertainty about staying at West Point, Anthony is committed to following her father, James, a retired colonel in the U.S. Marines who now is a Lehigh County judge, with a military career.
The admitted Type-A personality has signed up for three more years of service after graduation and plans on a lot more.
"I've fallen in love with being in the Army," she said.
"I want a full 20-year career and see what comes out of 20 years and decide after that. I want to come back to West Point to teach right around the 10-year mark."
Anthony's career could have taken an academic path from the beginning. Her mother, Donna, is a fourth-grade teacher at Fogelsville Elementary School.
All through high school, Anthony wanted to be an elementary school teacher.
"The fact that I loved West Point so much is the only reason I didn't pursue that," she admitted.
The summer leading into her junior year at West Point was a critical one for the life direction of the Allentown native. She was in charge of 40 underclassmen as part of a leadership detail of lower-level military training.
It combined her desire to teach with her love for the military life.
"I love being in a mentor's position," she said. "It validated it for me."
Later that summer came the tough car ride back to West Point from Pennsylvania. It was then that she told her mother of her wish to be a military woman.
There were plenty of tears but, as always, words of encouragement and support.
It wasn't easy for a woman who had a husband in the military and two of her four children following the same path (a son, Mac, is a swimmer at the U.S. Naval Academy).
But for Erin, she was merely transitioning into an advanced stage of military life and working with a college basketball coach who demands plenty.
"My dad being a marine made it a lot easier for me," she said. "I'm used to the sometimes hysterics of having a very demanding person.
"I remember being little cleaning the basement and Dad standing there, orchestrating the big event. It's sometimes like that with Coach [Dave] Magarity. He expects perfection. I'm kind of used to that and most of us [at Army] demand that of ourselves anyway."
Anthony has thrived on the basketball court since arriving four years ago. She was a Patriot League all-rookie team selection as a freshman, a second-team all-league pick as a sophomore and a first-team PL selection last season as a junior.
She is a two-year captain and came into this weekend leading the Patriot League in scoring and rebounding and among the best in blocked shots.
The 6-foot-2 center is Army's best player. Everyone in the league knows it, but she still is averaging a double-double this season.
"She's always been our rock," Magarity said, who spent 28 years as a Division I men's head coach before coming to Army in 2005. "She may be the best rebounder I've ever coached. She is relentless going after the ball. She has a great feel for where the ball is going offensively and defensively.
"She's the complete package."
If Anthony has a weakness it is her humility.
Magarity still must remind her from time to time to be more assertive, to take more shots.
Anthony always has been a team player, so that aspect of the game hasn't come easy for her.
"She was a kid [late in her sophomore year] I felt was who I wanted to sort of build the team around," Magarity recalled. "I thought she handled it well. She's very unassuming, humble. She gets embarrassed sometimes.
"But she's got to know that the ball goes through her."
Anthony is more comfortable in a leadership role in the academic world. She was given several opportunities last summer to find out what her career path could look like.
She first spent two weeks in China as part of the International Scholar Laureate Program with 60 other engineering students from across the U.S., Canada, South Africa and Australia. The self-proscribed 'picky eater' survived Asian food, the nonstop World Cup soccer craze of the South Africans and an Australian student's version of 'Waltzing Matilda.'
"There are only 40 civil engineering majors at West Point, so this was cool to meet a bunch of other people from different parts of the world," said Anthony, who previously had never traveled farther away than Canada.
And, her adviser on the trip was a former Army Ranger, who had to leave the Army because of a back injury suffered doing jumps with his unit in Georgia.
Leading a military unit on a jumping exercise (out of a plane) is something Anthony admits to looking forward to doing while she's still in great athletic shape.
Anthony next went to Fort Bragg, N.C., where she followed a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. It also was an opportunity to see what real engineers do.
"People think engineers and just think of designing cars, computers and buildings," she said. "I spent time with the Prime Power Unit, who get deployed to countries hit with ice storms and hurricanes, and set up generators, temporary shelters, roads and landing strips."
Anthony's long-term goal is a little more dangerous, working with the U.S. Army's Corps of Engineers with route clearance, looking for IEDs and being a part of an airborne unit.
One of Anthony's former basketball teammates, Megan Evans, has been preparing Erin's mother for what's to come by sending letters to her Fogelsville Elementary School class. Evans is a member of the military police working with the Iraqi police.
There is a photo of Evans in Magarity's office, one which showed her toughness by unintentionally putting a fist in the face of an opponent.
For all she has accomplished at Army, there is sure to be a photo or two of Anthony around Christl Arena.
But, knowing her, her best contributions are yet to come.
AN 'A' FOR ANTHONY'S ACHIEVEMENTS AT ARMY
Class rank: 17th out of 1,096
Major: Civil engineering
Next step: Signed on for three more years of service. Will be in the Corps of Engineers branch of the U.S. Army
Family: Parents James and Donna; brothers, Mac and Matthew; sister, Katy.
High school: Parkland
Achievements: Three-time all-Patriot League selection. … Two-time Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year (only one in Army history to win one). … Rhodes Scholarship finalist. … One of 30 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award candidates nationwide. … Army's career and Christl Arena single-game shot block record holder. … Has 1,290 career points, seventh all-time at Army. … Four-time Patriot League player of the week honoree this season. Her 12 career honors is one shy of the league record, set by Bucknell's Molly Creamer. … Has 947 career rebounds. She is first in the league and fifth nationally with 11.9 rebounds per game. … She was an Academic All-American last season.